John J. Winkler Memorial Prize

The John J. Winkler Memorial Trust invites all undergraduate and graduate students in North America (plus those currently unenrolled who have not as yet received a doctorate and who have never held a regular academic appointment) to enter the 27th competition for the John J. Winkler memorial prize.

This year the Prize will be a cash award of $1,500, which may be split if more than one winner is chosen.

The Prize is intended to honor the memory of John J. (“Jack”) Winkler, a classical scholar, teacher, and political activist for radical causes both within and outside the academy, who died of AIDS in 1990 at the age of 46. Jack believed that the profession as a whole discourages young scholars from exploring neglected or disreputable topics, and from applying unconventional or innovative methods to their scholarship. He wished to be remembered by means of an annual Prize that would encourage such efforts.

In accordance with his wishes, the John J. Winkler Memorial trust awards a cash prize each year to the author of the best undergraduate or graduate essay in any risky or marginal field of classical studies. Topics include (but are not limited to) those that Jack himself explored: the ancient novel, the sex/gender systems of antiquity, the social meanings of Greek drama, and ancient Mediterranean culture and society. Approaches include (but are not limited to) those that Jack’s own work exemplified: feminism, anthropology, narratology, semiotics, cultural studies, ethnic studies, and lesbian/gay studies.

The Winner of the 2022 Winkler Prize

The graduate winner of the 2022 Winkler Memorial Prize is Cat Lambert, a recnt PhD  in Classics from Columbia University for her essay, ""Lucian’s Queer Book User in the Adversus Indoctum.” Cat's essay deals with the “queer relations between readers and their books” that animate Lucian’s essay, and uses the embodied figure of the book-collector to upend the narrator’s authoritative - but perhaps ridiculous - stance. 

The undergraduate winner of the prize this year is Gabriel Ashe-Jones, a major in Classics at Harvard University, for his essay, "Borrowed Womanhood: A Transgender Reading of Catullus 63."  Gabriel reads Catullus' poem in light of recent trans theory, and argues that Attis is best understood as occupying a trans* identity.

The Jury also awarded an honorable mention to Tuhin Bhattacharjee, a graduate student in Comparative Literature at NYU for his essay, “I Killed my Mother: Or, When Orestes Bumped into Paraśurāma." Tuhin's essay compares the motif of matricide in the Oresteia and the  Mahabharata, drawing on both modern receptions and french feminist theory.  

Past Winners of the Winkler Prize


The 2023 Winkler Prize Competition

The winner of the 2023 Prize will be selected from among the contestants by a jury of four, as yet not named.

The deadline for submissions is March 1, 2023. Essays should not exceed the length of 30 pages, including notes but excluding bibliography and illustrations or figures. Electronic submission is required. Essays should be sent in .pdf format.

The preferred method of submission is by Google form. The appropriate Google form  (which contains the ability to upload your essay directly) is available here.

If you are unable to use the Google form, you may send in your essay by email to Kirk Ormand.  Please include with your essay the following information: your college/university, your department or program of study, whether you are a graduate or undergraduate, your email and regular mail addresses, a phone number where you can be reached in May 2023, and the title of your work.

The Winkler Prize is intended to encourage new work rather than to recognize scholarship that has already proven itself in more traditional venues. Essays submitted for the prize should not, therefore, be previously published or accepted for publication. Exceptions may be made in the case of anticipated publication in a conference proceeding.

The Trust reserves the right not to confer the Winkler Prize in any year in which the essays submitted to the competition are judged insufficiently prizeworthy.

Contestants may send their essays and address any inquiries to: Kirk Ormand , Department of Classics, Oberlin College.


The John J. Winkler Memorial Trust was established as an independent, charitable foundation on June 1, 1990. Its purpose is to honor Jack Winkler’s memory and to promote both his scholarly and his political ideals.

Inquiries about the Winkler Prize, tax-deductible gifts to the trust, and general correspondence may be addressed to Kirk Ormand, John. J. Winkler Memorial Trust, Department of Classics, Oberlin College, Oberlin, OH 44074